Slant range analysis of radar altimeter data from the Seasat, Geosat, ERS-1 and ERS-2 databases are used to determine barrier location at particular times, and estimate barrier motion (km/yr) for major Antarctic ice shelves. The barrier locations, which are the seaward edges or fronts of floating ice shelves, advance with time as the ice flows from the grounded ice sheets and retreat whenever icebergs calve from the fronts. The analysis covers various multiyear intervals from 1978 to 1998, supplemented by barrier location maps produced elsewhere for 1977 and 1986. Barrier motion is estimated as the ratio between mean annual ice shelf area change for a particular interval, and the length of the discharge periphery. This value is positive if the barrier location progresses seaward, or negative if the barrier location regresses (break-back). Either positive or negative values are lower limit estimates because the method does not detect relatively small area changes due to calving or surge events. The findings are discussed in the context of the three ice shelves that lie in large embayments (the Filchner-Ronne, Amery, and Ross), and marginal ice shelves characterized by relatively short distances between main segments of grounding line and barrier (those in the Queen Maud Land sector between 10.1 deg. W and 32.5 deg. E, and the West and Shackleton ice shelves). All the ice shelves included in the study account for approximately three-fourths of the total ice shelf area of Antarctica, and discharge approximately two-thirds of the total grounded ice area.